Coverage for children leads policy debate

Extending coverage to more children and adults and directing Medicare to negotiate Part D prices with suppliers are the health care items that the public would most like the new Congress and individual states to address in 2007.

A new 50-state survey released by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured reports that many states have expressed interest in improving access to their Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) to more needy children, and to some parents as well. With state treasuries in better financial shape than earlier in the decade, one third of states increased access to health coverage in 2006, and more may do so this year. In fact, for the first time in four years, no state reduced the income level that makes a person eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP.

In a poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health, the majority said the federal government should negotiate drug prices under Medicare. Eight in 10 said this would make medications more affordable; 31 percent said it would result in less research and development by drug companies. There was also support for permitting purchase of prescription drugs from Canada.

Opinions on drug price negotiation

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about allowing the federal government to use its buying power to negotiate with drug companies to get lower-priced prescriptions for people on Medicare?

On buying prescription drugs from Canada

Do you favor or oppose Congress changing the law to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada if they think they can get a lower price?

Source: KFF/HSPH. The public’s health care agenda for the new Congress and Presidential campaign (conducted November 9–19, 2006)

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